Review supports zinc’s anti-viral activity, potential for COVID-19

“Since zinc is non-toxic, non-expansive, readily available, and plays an important role as an immune modulator, its application in COVID-19 may provide a clinical, cost-effective benefit to facilitate a meaningful recovery with a better prognosis,” ​write scientists from Wayne State University, USA in Antioxidants.

Clinical evidence suggests zinc is effective at reducing infection severity in adults and incidence in children and elderly subjects through down-regulation of inflammatory cytokines/chemokines and oxidative stress markers, they explain.

Zinc deficiency

Zinc deficiency is reported to affect about 30 % of the world’s population. The human body cannot make it, so it has to come from our diet.

It is estimated that more than 1 in 6 people globally are deficient in zinc and that around 1 in every 58 deaths in children under five is related to zinc deficiency.

The potential immune health benefits of zinc are linked to “strong support” for treating the upper respiratory infections, notably the common cold, due to its anti-viral activity.

A 2017 meta-analysis published in the Royal Society of Medicine’s JRSM Open​ found that zinc lozenges providing 75 mg per day of elemental zinc may shorten the duration of the common cold by about 33%, but the zinc must be taken within 24 hours of the onset of the infection. Similar conclusions were drawn in a 2011 review by the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration that covered zinc syrup, lozenges or tablets.

Zinc plays an essential preventative role in modulating cellular immune responses, including natural killer cells, T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes, and has been reported to determine severity of COVID-19.

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